Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp is set to depart at the end of the season from Anfield, so what’s next for a club that has been defined by the tenacious German gaffer?
When Jürgen Klopp took over Liverpool in 2015, his credentials were impressive for a relatively young manager. Klopp showed great consistency at the two clubs he had coached up until that point. Mainz 05 was a respectable first stop helping the small German club qualify to the UEFA Cup (now Europa League), then at Borussia Dortmund he was able to achieve a rarity in German soccer: Win back-to-back league titles with a club not named Bayern Munich.
Not only that, but Klopp managed to get the Yellow and Black to a UEFA Champions League final in 2013, and gave an opportunity to a young kid named Christian Pulisic. When it was all said and done, Klopp had won five titles at Dortmund, a height the club has failed to reach since.
In 2015, Klopp was named manager at Liverpool in a unique way. According to El Pais, the brass at the club looked outside of the box for their new manager, applying the Fenway Sports Group’s “Moneyball” method, which led the Reds to Klopp.
The rest is history. Klopp has revolutionized Liverpool, becoming their most influential manager of the modern era. He’s won seven championships, none bigger than the Premier League title in 2019-20 and the UEFA Champions League in 2018-19. Additionally, Liverpool would be runners up of the UCL two more times.
Jürgen Klopp has announced his decision to step down as #LFC manager at the end of the season, having informed the club’s ownership of his wish to leave his position in the summer.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) January 26, 2024
To the shock of many, Klopp announced that he would be leaving the club at the end of the season, ending one of the most successful runs in EPL history.
So, What Next?
That’s the question for Liverpool supporters and pundits. Top clubs of the Premier League who have had long standing managers — as seen with Manchester United and Arsenal — have suffered greatly to readjust after those figures left the club.
For the moment, Liverpool is cashing in on Klopp’s departure, as a documentary is now being shot following the team in their quest for a fourth championship in Klopp’s “last dance.”
The future after Klopp is another story. For ESPN Argentina journalist and producer, as well as longtime Liverpool fan Rosario Pompizzi, Klopp’s legend will not be forgotten any time soon.
“Beyond success and titles, Klopp formed a great family,” Pompizzi said. “He connected sentimentally and even spiritually with the fans. There is a phrase that I think sums it all up: ‘We are Liverpool, this means more.’ Every fan will have a special place in their heart for him.”
As to how Liverpool will look in the future, Pompizzi believes changes are brewing with the German’s departure.
“The connection between both parties (coach and players) is crucial to generate a comfortable environment and ensure that each day’s work flows,” she said.
“In this case there is not only respect, but also affection involved, so I would not blame those who might rethink their situation from that aspect. Then there is the commitment to the club, the fans, and the local community that should also weigh when deciding. I understand that the future of the players can generate anxiety, but there will be time to put the issue on the table. Anxiety is not an ally for anyone, and upcoming results are the priority.”
While Pompizzi admits that the post-Klopp era will be hard to imagine, she also realizes that there is a path to rebuilding after he leaves that could take time.
But she’s confident that the management will get it right.
“I have no doubt that the club has been working on this change of command for some time,” Pompizzi said. “Xabi Alonso has popular support above any other candidate. Liverpool deserves a coach with certain unavoidable characteristics, such as a sense of belonging. Get to know the club, the city and the fans. He grew up in football with other great coaches such as Rafa Benítez, Jose Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti, and Pep Guardiola. He charted his own path, from junior to senior, first as coach of the Real Madrid under-14s, then at Real Sociedad B, and finally, Bayer Leverkusen.”
As for Liverpool itself, it cannot let Klopp’s departure be the defining moment of the club’s recent history like Sir Alex Ferguson’s was for Manchester United and Arsène Wenger at Arsenal. Pompizzi insists that Liverpool must work towards the institution and maintain the bases because there is a strong foundation. She’d like the club to preserve the squad while also exploring local talent.
After all, it’s been a successful formula so far, so why stray from it?